No, he isn't "buying" kids. Not exactly. Faced with the problem of declining birth rates in Russia, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, announced that the government will provide cash incentives for couples to have babies: 1500 roubles a month for the first baby, double that for the second.
Russian embassies worldwide were immediately deluged with thousands of young women of childbearing age, wanting information about moving to Russia. One such young lady, Wanda Workfree, was interviewed at the Russian embassy in Washington, D. C. To prove her interest in reproduction, she had brought along a set of wooden 'nesting' dolls, detailing the 'pop out' feature to anyone who would listen. Ms. Workfree commented, "I wouldn't mind popping out a few kids in Russia, especially if I'm getting paid for it."
Not everyone is supporting Putin's program. Smirnoff officials, who had suggested that more distribution and consumption of their vodka would help birth rates to soar, criticized the child incentive program as too costly. A Smirnoff vice-president was heard to say, "Pass around a little more vodka, and a lot more buns would soon be popping out of the oven." He then added, "and at a one-time cost per bun. None of these recurring charges every month."
Others made similar points. Hugh Hefner suggested that more subscriptions to Playboy and the Playboy Channel might be more efficient than Putin's program. Most American government officials expressed outright disinterest in the Russian birth rate problem. One even commented, "Who cares about creating more Russians? The fewer, the better." However, one concerned official DID advise the Russians to experiment with rolling blackouts. "Research," he explained, "shows soaring birth rates nine months after people are left in the dark."
Moscow resident Irina Yurovka, 89 (mother of 18, grandmother of 59, and great-grandmother of 82), had a simple alternative to Putin's program. "Turn down heat and throw away blankets," she said. Ms. Yurovka admitted, however, that she was hoping that the child incentive program would be retroactive. She pointed to the pictures of her many descendants and said, "I provided people for my country." Shrugging, she added, "Now my country should provide for me."
Meanwhile, Britney Spears denies that the reason she and her husband Kevin Federline (rumored to have dual citizenship as a Russian) decided to have a second child was that they would qualify for an "additional child" incentive under Putin's program.